Supporters of Harvard graduate Bakhtiyar Hajiyev gathered at the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety for a press conference today. The academic, who wants to continue his studies outside the country, is fighting his conscription by the Azerbaijani government. He was arrested at the Georgian border when he tried to leave the country, and will likely be tried for desertion. He is currently being held in Ganja, reported Rail Abbasov, a friend.
There is a current investigation of the charges against Hajiyev, and he is banned from leaving the city of Ganja until the matter has been resolved. He was arrested and detained in Ganja late last year on the same grounds – for evading military service. Hakiyev filed an appeal against the illegal detention during his first arrest, the hearing for which will take place on January 31st at the Sabayel District Court. The court will be closed – even to Hajiyev, who is will be in the unlikely position of being excluded from his own hearing.
Hajiyev’s lawyer Narmin Rahimli said that his client’s arrest was related to his political activities.
Others at the press conference also believe that the arrest was politically motivated.
“Bakhtiyar is completely within his rights to defer his military service until he has finished his education,” she said. Human Rights defender Vidadi Isgandarov supported this, adding that on this basis, Hajiyev’s arrest was illegal.